Vantage point

Friday, July 03, 2015

On IIPM "Shutting Down"

Recently a friend pointed out that next month would be 10 years since I made a post titled "The Fraud that is IIPM" on my little-read blog. He asked if I planned to make a 10 year anniversary post of sorts. I said I'd think about it. And now comes the news that IIPM is shutting down their campuses.
When I met Rashmi Bansal (who owned JAM whose post I linked to) in Manhattan earlier this year, she mentioned the possibility of something like this happening. She said the relentless bad press is taking its toll and some campuses were being closed even then.
It is difficult to put into words the full range of emotions I feel hearing this news. But the foremost is that this "victory", if you call it that, belongs primarily to people like Rashmi Bansal, Maheshwar Peri, and Anant Nath. They actually WERE sued by that odious company and they fought the legal battle without choosing to take the easy way out. They paid a lot, monetarily and emotionally, to expose the fraud.
I really didn't do too much. I wrote a post linking to a JAM story by Arjun Ravi on a blog that was read by maybe 2-300 people. When IIPM sent me a standard email they sent to threaten all bloggers who wrote against them, I ridiculed it on my blog. And when IIPM sleazily tried to drag my then employer IBM into it, I quit my job.
The "IIM dude quits IBM" factoid made for a catchy headline and the news went viral. Mainly because IIM and IBM are such huge brands. But the development didn't really "harm" me in the way a cursory reading of the headlines might suggest. Yeah, I quit that job, but within hours, I had two dozen interview calls and a few job offers, all of them unsolicited. Let's be honest. I was (am?) a privileged upper caste English speaking male in India with a prime resume painted as some sort of a hero by the media and the blogosphere. I was bound to land on my feet. And I did, really fast.
Eventually, as Arindam said last year to Shivam Vij on a news show, they chose NOT to follow through on their threat to sue me. If they had, I most certainly would've fought the case. Some reputed lawyers had offered their services pro bono if it came to that. And even if I had to do it on my own, I would've. As my mom and wife will tell you, I am very stubborn. smile emoticon
But it didn't happen. So other than the few hours of mild uncertainty after resigning from IBM, I came out of the experience unscathed and more or less smelling of roses. And with this "giant slayer" reputation that has continued since, and which has always made me very uncomfortable.
I took up a well-paying part-time job with IMS at an office 5 minutes from where I lived, making it clear to them that I'd be leaving for a PhD soon. The PhD plan is something I had made way back in my MBA days (in fact my IIML yearbook even mentions it). The IIPM threat just made me advance it to 2006 instead of 2008 when I had originally scheduled it for.
I got into a great PhD program at Penn State, and moved to the US, starting a new chapter of my life. IIPM became just a thing that I'd get emails and text messages about whenever they were in the news because of their latest PR disaster. Yes, I still got an occasional email threatening a lawsuit or an arrest (the last was in 2010 i think), but I just ignored them all and nothing really materialized.
Meanwhile, Rashmi, Maheshwar, Anant, and many wronged and cheated students fought on. They were made to navigate the complex and sometimes corrupt labyrinth of the Indian judicial system, responding to complaints from remote locations like Silchar! They kept the battle going.
So this news today of IIPM essentially shutting shop is their win. They deserve the credit, the kudos, the accolades, and everything else. In 2015, I'm as much of a bystander as the rest of you.